Early child development and the four stages of art that help

Last updated on May 6th, 2024 at 10:23 am

early child development and four stages of art that helpJoy is a wonderful feeling, it can turn your day around in an instant. I`m sure you can think of many single moments in your life that changed your thoughts from blank to warm and fuzzy in a second. A child smiling at you, a tiny little infant with tiny fingers and fingernails, grasping yours and squeezing or just a simple sneeze coming from a baby is an extraordinary moment, nothing but pure joy. I think it’s pretty powerful stuff and I assume that many of you can relate too.

In the first year of a child’s life (they pass so fast, don’t they?), a parent could easily get lost in those moments day in and day out, so trying new stuff might not be top of your list with a busy schedule, but some things could provide you and your child with a new skill that will nourish yours and their imagination, and spark shared experiences that might even prolong the feeling of those first years in a way. Your child will  make connections, associations, bonds that will last for a lifetime and you’ll be there right alongside him/her.

Doodling is such an opportunity that can lead to drawing and coloring, even painting and numerous studies have previously highlighted the great importance of drawing and coloring in early child development as these artistic means of expression can emphasize physical, social, cognitive development of the little one as well as encouraging social interaction. Timeless memories, for all parties will be forged, extraordinary experiences will grow into strong roots.

So now that I have your attention, hopefully, let’s take a moment and explore together, just how extraordinarily significant these actions can be for you and your child, in these four stages of art skills from baby to child. 

1. Doodles

After about a year and a half, children start to doodle or scribble or do the devil’s bidding right on your expensive coffee table top, there seem to be many names going around for this simple and normal action.

Actually the child starts moving a pencil around, trying to make sense of reality, that is just beginning of his curiosity, forming shapes, leaving colors behind, materializing abstract pieces of art that will remain a mystery for us.

This is of utmost importance for two reasons :  the action is the first contact with art on one hand and a very important association is beginning to form in his brain between his eyes and his hands. The child attempts to construct something in through a process that involves movements of his arm down to his wrist and fingers, all driven by what they see and/or imagine.

This fine tunes their coordination, their self confidence and their psychical development alike. It`s important that you encourage every initiative and make sure you`re there, drawing by his/her side.

Maybe just buy cheaper furniture for a while though. Trust me, I have been there with nice furniture and artistic talent displayed upon it.

2. Simple shapes

Another one or two years pass like it’s been only weeks, and the child is now recognizing squares, circles, triangles and other shapes with ease. This is the moment in which the child is beginning to make sense of the world around them and attempt to use what they see in simple compositions (this is not limited to drawing as I`m sure you know.

Fueling creative activity can mean immense jumps in emotional and intellectual growth for the child as he is now beginning to learn about his surroundings at a deeper level than before.

3. Concepts

Fast forward another year or so and, the now toddler, is already drawing recognizable pieces of our reality in simple drawings.

This is called  conceptualization, a process that associates the item with the incipient shapes, identifying common items and translating these in simple compositions made out of different type of lines, circles, triangles. One of the most common examples of this might still be on your fridge door, his first family portrait, the whole family lined up as stick figures with some added detail.

Repetition will help the child create these associations faster and the ability to conceptualize  learnt at a young age can have a great impact on the understanding of the world that begins to develop at this age.

4. Reality

Around 8 years old, a kid is in the search of a different mean of expression, and if they are still into drawing, they will attempt a more realistic approach around now.

These are their first  “concrete operational thoughts “ if we were to use the words of a psychologist. At this stage imagination is taking a backseat, for a moment, to perspective. They now begin to take into account things like perspective, proportions, textures and materials in their art.

This stage can be tricky as the transition is not coming as easy for everyone and even though there is no bad side to this, not every child will grow to be an artist, but they might think they want to, at this age. This pursuit should be encouraged if they like to draw, regardless of personal views or their “skill level”.

Regardless of what you think of the quality of what they are drawing at this time, the confidence of a child (or a fair part of adults) can be a very fragile thing , so your opinion on this as the most dominant figure in their life can make or break self confidence, so as we know as parent we need to continue to encourage them to do what they love no matter what. 

Spending time on creativity oriented activities can do no harm, at this age especially, so everything that involves making things (from sand castles to drawing or music) can mean special bonding time between you and your child and, at least in my opinion, it’s parenting done right . The extraordinary may be just around the corner so here are a few pointers if you would like to embark on a drawing journey with your child:

  • No bad critique, regardless of circumstances. Anything coming from a parent can discourage their young, innocent mind. Creativity and imagination are not really that easily measurable anyway.
  • Encourage them every step along the way. The child`s mind is a sponge that should be nourished with care and encouragement and happy thoughts.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. Children get creative in the most unexpected circumstances and you ought to be prepared. Have pencils and a piece of paper nearby to avoid or at least limit, following my advice, of buying cheaper furniture, in the beginning.

What do you think? We would love to hear your drawing related experiences, we would love to see the masterpieces you and your toddler created ! Use the hashtag #colorfulchildhood if you want to share and please comment below how you bring creativity and art into your life with your children. 

Let’s get drawing and coloring with our little ones today!


Photo Courtesy to Homesthetics.net * collaboration 

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